Jury Delivers Verdicts in Six Defendant Murder Trial 

Thank you for reading D.C. Witness. Help us continue our mission into 2024.

Donate Now

On June 13, following a four-month long emotional trial, a 12-person jury delivered verdicts for six murder and conspiracy defendants. 

Gregory Taylor, 27, Quentin Michals, 25, Qujuan Thomas, 24, Darrise Jeffers, 23, Isaiah Murchison, 23, and Marquell Cobbs, 21, were six of 10 defendants charged with first-degree murder, criminal street gang affiliation, conspiracy, possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, assault with intent to kill, and other charges regarding a fatal drive-by shooting that resulted in 10-year-old Makiyah Wilson’s death and injuries to four individuals. The shooting happened on the 300 block of 53rd Street, NE on July 16, 2018. 

Taylor, Thomas, Jeffers, and Murchison were found guilty of all charges for their involvement in the incident, and Michals was found guilty of all charges, except possession of firearms during a crime of violence. 

Cobbs, on the other hand, was found guilty of conspiracy, but acquitted of all other charges. 

“Twenty seconds, fifty gunshots, four gunmen, and one driver,” prosecutors said in their opening and closing statements, is all it took for the Clay Terrace neighborhood in northeast DC to be changed forever. 

According to prosecutors, the defendants belong to what’s known as the Wellington Park Crew, which they argue is a criminal street gang whose purpose is to commit crimes throughout the city. 

Through trial, prosecutors presented evidence that linked the individual defendants to the planning of various attacks, including the murder of Makiyah, which they argue stemmed from retaliation against rival gangs in the District. 

Most of the evidence presented was conversations and posts on social media created by the defendants, where they bragged about their wrongdoings, and planned and celebrated the downfall of rival individuals and gangs. 

In one Instagram video uploaded by Jeffers on the day of Makiyah’s murder, various defendants could be heard saying “we the real reason why the murder rate high.”

The mode of operation for every shooting was the same, according to prosecutors. The suspects would arm themselves, get in a car with a designated driver, show up in a rival neighborhood, get out, fire several gunshots into a courtyard or common area, and speed away from the crime scene. This pattern occurred many times between 2017 and 2018, prosecutors say.

In the hours leading up to the shooting, all six defendants and other individuals charged with the attack were seen gathering in the Wellington Park neighborhood. Their preparations included getting clothing, gloves, and masks that would protect their identities, acquiring an assault rifle, and double checking that no one was around their vehicles when they were ready to commit the crime. 

Attorneys for all defendants pleaded with the jury to find their clients not guilty during their closing arguments, stating that the prosecutors had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that their respective clients had anything to do with the charges brought against them.

Many of them mentioned holes in the prosecutors’ story, stating that they were attempting to get a conviction by trying to force the defendants to fit into a story where they didn’t belong, and forcing the jury to make leaps of logic to figure out their plot. 

“I hope you have the wisdom, strength, and integrity to give a fair verdict,” Jonathan Zucker, Taylor’s defense attorney, told the jury during his closing arguments.

However, for most defendants, their attorneys’ pleadings were not sufficient. The evidence presented to the jury convinced them of the defendants’ involvement in Makiyah’s death. 

It was an emotional day in the courtroom, as jurors delivered the verdicts in front of family, friends, and community members. 

Makiyah’s grandmother told reporters after the verdicts that she has empathy for the defendants’ families, because they too are losing their children. 

However, she said just putting the convicted killers in jail is not enough. She said the death penalty is justified.

“I don’t think they deserve to live,” she proclaimed. 

“I don’t think we should have to pay for them to be housed. [They] have no respect for life – they have no value for life, at all,” she stated. 

Meanwhile, outside the DC Superior Courthouse, various defendants’ family members and friends could be heard saying “free [the defendants].” 

DC Superior Court Judge Robert Okun will be sentencing Murchison and Cobbs on Oct. 6, and Michals, Thomas, Taylor, and Jeffers on Oct. 20.

Follow this case